Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Before I Go To Sleep

It's a who-done-it suspense version of "50 First Dates" as a woman (Nicole Kidman) with psychogenesis amnesia wakes up each morning not remembering anything from the previous day. Driven by fear and mistrust, she starts to doubt those around her; the person (Colin Firth) she awakes up in bed with each day and the doctor (Mark Strong) who calls up every day to remind her who she is. This mild psychological thriller evolves slowly as the secrets of her past begin to unravel and learning those truths put her in harms way.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "who are you" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

A former iconic movie superhero, now washed up actor (Michael Keaton), tries to reinvent and rejuvenate his career by producing, directing, and starring in his own Broadway play. This black comedy takes you backstage with the behind the scenes drama of a desperate man with troubles in his personal and professional life. The acting is superb by Keaton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Edward Norton. Alien was amazed by the seemingly seamless continuous footage shot from beginning to end without the appearance of any breaks or fades. This dialog driven film also pokes fun at today's attention grabbing special effects action movies by satirically injecting some of its own implausible special enhancements. This well-crafted film may be just too peculiar to have mass popular appeal.

Alien gets it 2 ½ "levitation & telekinesis" stars out of 4.

Monday, October 27, 2014

John Wick

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

It's "The Equalizer" meets "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" when a retired Russian mob associate (Keanu Reeves) seeks revenge for a stolen car and dead puppy. This silly shoot 'em up film is action packed with bullets blazing, nifty hand-to-hand combat scenes, hot cars racing about, and a femme fatale. Everyone seems to know John Wick and his reputation except for the idiot mobster's son and his babysitters. The film is ultra-violent with a dark sense of humor to lighten the mood at times. This one man killing machine keeps on mission with a little help from his friends and a peculiar assassins' code. John Wick's sacrifice gives new meaning to the term "keep your enemies closer". Forget a real storyline here because it's just a mindless guilty pleasure trip. John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe, and Ian McShane are just name draws and have relatively small roles.

Alien gives it 3 "reservation for 12" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


This is not a sneak preview. This film has released.

This claymation oddity features grotesque subterranean creatures who salvage junk and a pest exterminator who plots to gain social status by ridding the town of these feared boxtrolls. A human boy raised by these boxtrolls discovers who he really is. Although well made, this dark tale may be too terrifying for the very young kiddies and may seem too childish for the older crowd. If you like friendly monsters that creep in the night and eat bugs, then you may enjoy this peculiar film where the prize is a white hat leading to the cheese tasting room. If you stay for the credits, you see the secret to stop motion action photography.

Alien gives it 3 " Archibald Snatcher of Cheesebridge" stars out of 4.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Best of Me

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

Break out the tissues because another Nicholas Sparks novel has made it to the big screen. A guy (James Marsden) with a good heart but from the wrong side of the tracks meets the love of his life (Michelle Monaghan) but tragedy steps in and sets them on separate paths until they reunite 20 years later. It's a roller coaster ride for these star-crossed lovers with a destiny. The movie is full of classic romance novel material, enjoyably contrived at times, but with a cruel twist of fate. Don't be surprised if you become upset and develop a love/hate relationship with this film in the end. The younger versions of the two leads seemed poorly casted resemblance-wise.

Alien gives it 3 "life happens and life is messy" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fury (Century XD)

It's "Black Hawk Down" for a 5-man tank crew trying to rescue a pinned down platoon, secure the next town, and hold a key crossroads position while battling against superior Germany tanks in the middle of enemy territory. Brad Pitt (Wardaddy), Shia LaBeouf (Bible), Michael Pena (Gordo), Jon Bernthal (Coon-Ass), and Logan Lerman (Norman) give outstanding performances bringing grim realism to these heroic soldiers who followed orders while being out-numbered and out-gunned. The explosions are booming and the shells feel like they whiz right past your ears. Director/writer David Ayer puts you right in the driver's seat seeing WWII through the eyes of a new recruit (Lerman) "volunteered" straight from the clerks typing pool. Pitt plays the strong and tough leader capable of eliciting the best from his crew. Everyone knows war is ugly, but this shocking and brutally honest film paints some vivid realistic images not to be forgotten. This all guts and no glory movie is gripping, intense, and beautifully shot & told. Watch out, when these "hell of wheels" light them up on the big screen.

Alien gives it 4 "ideals are peaceful, history is violent" stars out of 4.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

St. Vincent

A mean old man (Bill Murray) with a drinking and gambling problem becomes the babysitter for a 12-year-old boy who was being bullied at his new school. Murray plays the lovable gambler/liar/cheat/grouch in his typical Bill Murray style. The boy is wiser way beyond his age. They become a dynamic dual and have a hilarious adventure cruising from the race track to the bar to the strip club, each learning to grow up along the way. Melissa McCarthy plays it serious as the divorced single mom struggling to best provide for her son. Alien was surprised to find Naomi Watts in the role of a Russian accented pregnant stripper/lady of the night. Although you know exactly where the plot is taking you, you can't help from getting emotional at that anticipated climatic moment. If you love Bill Murray and his antics, you'll enjoy this fantastic story about bringing out the best in one's self. Murray sings some Dylan during the credits. A Lexus short film titled "Barn Owl" plays as an opening trailer to this featured film.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "every day saints" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Men, Women, & Children

The effects of electronic technology and the internet on people, young and old, are explored in a film that isn't what it seems to be. The false assumption is that a movie directed by Jason Reitman ("Juno", "Up In The Air") and starring Adam Sandler & Jennifer Garner would be a typical comedy. Cast against type, Garner plays a scary overprotective mom. There are some laughs but they stem mostly from awkward sexual moments. It's kids will be kids and make dumb mistakes. Texting, gaming, online gambling, and such are just the gimmick here. The disturbing human behavior and its consequences are the real features of this movie. Alien found it depressing, awkward to watch at times, and a sad commentary on society. The film is well done, just unpleasant viewing.

Alien gives it 2 "bad choices" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Dracula Untold (IMAX)

It's history meets the legendary horror myth when Vlad the Impaler transforms into Dracula. The prince of Transylvania makes a deal with the Devil in order to save the lives of his family and his fellow countrymen. He is the original batman with super powers and his own "kryptonite". The special effects are dazzling under the cover of darkness. At the IMAX, the quick cut battles scenes are dizzying and the sound effects are booming. This version is more action than horror. It is an interesting twist to the vampire genre paying homage to the allege origins of the Dracula legend.

Alien gives it 3 "let the game begin" stars out of 4.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Judge

The death of his mother brings a successful high-priced big city lawyer/estranged son (Robert Downey Jr) back to his small Indiana hometown where he must face his past relationships. Although he barely stand to be in the same room as his father, The Judge (Robert Duvall), he must help defend his cantankerous old man who is accused of murder. Downey & Duvall give Oscar-worthy performances. The supporting cast (including Vincent D'Orofrio, Vera Farmiga, and Billy Bob Thornton) is terrific as well. The trial is just the backdrop for this film about reconnecting relationships. However, the plot feels a bit contrived but it's a touching emotional ride as secrets are exposed.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "defend your honor" stars out of 4.

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